Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Infection-resistant monkeys could be crucial in the fight against HIV

Via Io9, by .

Sooty mangabeys are a monkey species found on the western coast of central Africa. Their unique immunity to SIV, a relative of HIV, has intrigued medical researchers for decades. Now we know just how their immunity works.

SIV and HIV function in much the same way - the viruses find two molecules on the surface of the cell, which are known as co-receptors. These molecules function much like gates. One of these molecules is CD4, which is found on immune cells known as T cells. The immune response triggered by the appearance of the virus stimulates these T cells, which boost the level of the other co-receptor, CCR5, which in turn facilitates the deadly infection.

But sooty mangabeys are able to avoid that chain of events, thanks to a unique type of T cell called a central memory T cell. When this particular type of T cell responds to the virus, it does so without activating CCR5. This helps the T cells survive the SIV infection, and it's a crucial reason why these monkeys are able to avoid the onset of AIDS. Best of all, central memory T cells are long-lived in the body, and their positioning in the lymph nodes makes them particularly effective in stopping the spread of SIV.

Emory University researcher Mirko Paiardini explains what this means:

Read the rest here.

[If an item is not written by an IRMA member, it should not be construed that IRMA has taken a position on the article's content, whether in support or in opposition.]

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